Two women with ties to Tucson are among the nearly 600 killed or injured in the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Christiana Duarte, 21, was reported as missing Monday after attending the concert, but her friends and family were holding out hope that she had been injured, as they posted to social media asking for help securing information.
Tuesday, several media outlets reported that Duarte’s family said she had died. Duarte’s family told the Star Tuesday that they weren’t ready to talk.
Duarte graduated from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management in May, earning her bachelor’s degree in business marketing.
A former intern for the Tucson Roadrunners hockey team, Duarte had recently started a job with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and moved back to Southern California, where she was raised.
The Tucson hockey team released a statement Tuesday evening: “As an organization, we’d like to extend our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences to all of the victims of the tragedy that has taken place in Las Vegas. Christiana Duarte was a beloved member of our family during the 2016-17 inaugural season and we are deeply saddened by her loss.”
UA President Robert C. Robbins, said in a statement Tuesday that the dean of students was reaching out to students who knew Duarte, including members of her sorority, Sigma Kappa.
“This attack is a terrible tragedy for hundreds of families, and it is a shocking and horrific event for all of us. I know I speak for the UA community in expressing our deepest condolences to Christiana’s family and in asking for their privacy to be respected,” Robbins said .
A second woman with roots in Tucson, 26-year-old Savannah Sanchez, was in critical condition Tuesday after also being shot in the attack, her sister, Sarina Mendez, told the Star.
Sanchez, a 2009 graduate of Desert View High School in the Sunnyside district, was on life-support following two surgeries, Mendez said.
Mendez was at work in Tucson late Sunday when she heard the news of the shooting on the radio.
“I called Savannah to make sure she was all right,” Mendez said. “I knew the shooting was on the (Las Vegas) Strip, but I didn’t know right away that the shooting was at the festival.”
Eventually, Mendez was able to get in touch with her mother and her sisters, and they continued to try to get Sanchez on the phone while Mendez began calling hospitals in Las Vegas.
“Finally, she called me from her cellphone,” Mendez said. “But when I answered, it was a nurse at the hospital telling me that my sister had a gunshot wound and was seriously injured.”
Mendez’s mother, who was in California, went straight to Las Vegas to be with her daughter when she got the news early Monday. Mendez and her sisters, who all live in Tucson, left town later, arriving in Las Vegas Monday night.
“If everyone could just keep the prayers going,” Mendez said. “It seems like it’s working. Savannah looks better today than she did when I saw her last night.”
Yusely Herrera, Sanchez’s friend and co-worker at Walgreens, described her as a hard worker who was always laughing.
After graduating from Desert View, Sanchez moved to Ventura, California, to study photography at the Brooks Institute, which went out of business last October, Herrera said.
Sanchez, who wants to be a sports photographer, enrolled in Ventura College to finish her general education credits and graduate with an associate’s degree, Herrera told the Star.
“We loved hanging out together,” Herrera said. “Every time we hung out it was nothing but good laughs. Savannah is that kind of friend that will be there for you if you ever need her.”
Herrera has posted a Gofundme page to raise money for Sanchez’s medical bills. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/3mqwj7-las-vegas-shooting-victim
“We miss her a lot here at work and we’re all staying positive for her because we know how strong she is and she will pull through,” Herrera said. “And we’ll be waiting for her to come back home.”
A candlelight vigil was scheduled for Tuesday night at Mission Manor Park, according to a post on the Sunnyside Unified School District Facebook page.
“The Sunnyside community is shocked by this tragedy. We are keeping Savannah, the Sanchez family, and other victims of this tragedy in our thoughts,” the post said.